With LeBron James expected to lock the No. 10 slot of the NBA’s all-time scoring list during Saturday’s game in Philadelphia, the 0-4 Sixers are readying their attack against the Cleveland Cavaliers and King James.
“He’s got shooters all around him. (We need to) just show him a crowd, make sure we do everything to contain him,” center Joel Embiid told Sixers.com.
Fresh off their first-ever NBA championship last season, the 5-0 Cavs are off to their best start since the 1976-1977 season. With James scoring a season-high 30 points against the Boston Celtics Thursday, he’s just two points away from passing Hakeem Olajuwon’s 26,946 point total to take the No. 10 slot on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Embiid, who didn’t play in the Sixers 109-93 loss against Charlotte Wednesday, leads the team with an average of 17.3 points per game.
He’s also No. 1 in the league with 4.6 blocks per 36 minutes amid players clocking 60 on-court minutes. As a safeguard after missing his first two seasons to recover from two foot surgeries, Embiid has been averaging about 20 minutes per game and is expected to play 20-24 minutes against the Cavs.
He faced James for the first time during a preseason game last month. “I thought physically he was really imposing,” he said.
Add teammates like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, and it’s easy to see why the Cavaliers are off to their best start in 40 years.
But it all comes down to crowding James.
“It’s always the same thing you do with all those great players that are more known for probably getting to the paint and the rim,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “It’s a gang thing, it’s a group thing. He’s got to see people’s jerseys, he’s got to see five sets of numbers.”
Saturday’s game is the first of three meetings between the Sixers and Cleveland, who swept last season’s series. It is also the first to mark the Sixers’ “Salute Saturday” games celebrating the 50th anniversary of its 1966-1967 title team.